Terror suspects considered bombing journalist behind ”Mohammed cartoons”

As a service to our occasional, non-Danish readers we ”break” for a news story of a particular interest to those who followed the Danish ”cartoon crisis” in 2006, which we covered several times, including our comment by Samuel Rachlin (in English).

Tuesday this week it was divulged that the four suspected terrorists on trial in the Danish city of Odense in the so-called “Vollsmose terror case” may have planned to bomb Flemming Rose, the Culture Editor of the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten which in 2005 commissioned the cartoons of Mohammed, the founder of the religion of Islam, which a few months later was used to ignite a number of violent attacks against Danish firms and diplomatic representations, and where the costs in lost money and lost lives have not yet been fully tallied.

During the trial at the Courthouse in Odense one of the four individuals accused of planning terror attacks in Denmark divulged that he and the three others, together or separately, had discussed and/or worked on several planned bomb attacks. One of the ideas discussed included the construction of a remote-controlled bomb that should have been directed against Rose. The bomb would be planted in a car that was supposed to be driven into Rose’s private home. (It has already been uncovered that “A.K.”, the particular member of the group who suggested the idea, had considered killing one of the cartoonists. He also wrote letters in praise of Osama bin Laden and Abu Musab Zarqawi and offered himself: “Revenge, revenge! I am the first volunteer! God is great!”)

The suspected terrorist behind the disclosures Tuesday, a 32 year old Danish convert to Islam code-named “A.A.” in the trial, suggested that the idea of attacking Rose was not serious but he also admitted during the court case Tuesday that two of the group actually had detonated a bomb on a soccer field behind a school in Odense. It was also divulged that the group—which collected videos of Islamist decapitations of kidnapped victims as well as speeches by Osama bin Laden and photos of the 19 9/11 high-jackers—planned to use chemical fertilizers to construct a number of bombs.

Politically correct, Danish (and non-Danish) commentators will no doubt say that Rose should have expected something like this to happen. Disrespectfully, we disagree. Nobody ought to expect that questioning or even peacefully taking shots at a religion will result in death threats. Rose and the cartoonists to this day are under police protection, just as many other people with direct or indirect connections to the “cartoon crisis” have been, including many journalists, several academics and businessman and at least a few politicians. They and their families live or have lived in fear merely due to some other individuals’ exercise of their freedom of speech.

Altogether, this is a sad reminder of Thomas Jefferson’s words that the price of freedom is eternal vigilance.

For a recent interview with the thoughtful Flemming Rose in Reason Magazine, go here. To read his English-language blog at Pajamas Media, go here.

5 thoughts on “Terror suspects considered bombing journalist behind ”Mohammed cartoons”

  1. Christoffer Bugge Harder

    All possible disagreements between left and right wings nonwithstanding, I think this should serve as a case to remind us what the most fundamental common ground of all political debate in a democracy is supposed to be – the respect for the right to freedom of speech. Being left-leaning (by Danish standards, which probably says a lot), one of my greatest disappointments with the Danish left wing has been its reluctance to accept the fact that political Islam is a totalitarian movement which is simply not compatible with democracy. I allow myself to quote the following statement of a Danish left-winger, Morten Homann, about how the left is fighting for the wrong purposes: “The freedom of speech must remain uninfringeable and cannot be relativised with references to possible evil motives of some speakers. The Muhammed crisis has taught the left wing the necessity of making the fight for democracy, human rights and a secular public space a top priority”. I agree to everything – except that I would substitute “has taught” with “should teach”. I would also like to add that I think it would be wrong to believe that the people in Denmark and abroad taking sides against Flemming Rose in this case is doing so simply out of “political correctness” – if by this allegation one imagines the people making statements about how Rose has “abused” his right to free speech “to ridicule minorities” are doing so simply because they are afraid of being ostracised at dinner parties with other well-meaning people in elitist circles and such. I think that those people sincerely do think of Islam as a persecuted religion in Europe and that most problems just stem from “misunderstandings” and “lack of tolerance” from native Europeans. From my personal experience, I was living in Germany during the caricature crisis, and I was truly astounded by the virtually complete absence of support for Denmark and Jyllands-Posten from almost all sides of the German political spectrum – even in the Land of Baden-Württemberg, traditionally one of the most pronounced CDU strongholds. I remember several articles from Süddeutsche Zeitung, Die Zeit and Schwäbisches Tagblatt, in which prominent Danish people were quoted speaking out against the cartoons claiming that the public debate in Denmark suffered from a poisoned, racist athmosphere, and where the only supporters of JP mentioned were Søren Krarup and Louise Frevert (and the reporters were quick to stress that Frevert was “eine ehemalige Pornodarstellerin”). In fact, I received quite some unwanted attention from many different people when I revealed my nationality in conversations, and the reactions were remarkably similar, no matter whom I talked to or where – “Naja, was hätte man sich sonst erwarten können, wenn man so viele Leute in einer Schlagzeile beleidigt?” Apparently, there are too many people having trouble in grasping the very real threat of Islamic fundamentalism as well as separating possible personal dislike of the cartoons from the support of the freedom of speech. I already knew (and deplored) that this applied to all too many from the political left, but the fact that it seems to be a structural feature of the politics of many other countries makes it even sadder.

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  2. Jens

    Christoffer Bugge Harder “I think that those people sincerely do think of Islam as a persecuted religion in Europe and that most problems just stem from “misunderstandings” and “lack of tolerance” from native Europeans. “Well, then maybe it is about time for them to wake up and face reality. I’m afraid your right, but its just so sad that I dont wanna believe it. As I recall, Morten Homann was a rare left-wing exception during the crisis.Two years ago, who would have thought that by 2007 Asmaa Abdol-Hamid would be a candidate for Enhedslisten, even though she wanted the people responsible for the drawings to be punished. Gotta love Enhedslisten for sending out such a strong signal about their support for freedom of speech.Anyway, if you want to read an interesting article about lack of tolerance, try this:http://www.kristeligt-dagblad.dk/artikel/263364

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  3. Niels A Nielsen

    The above story serves as an excellent reminder to us all. P K-K: “Politically correct, Danish (and non-Danish) commentators will no doubt say that Rose should have expected something like this to happen. Disrespectfully, we disagree.” Sadly, anyone publishing controversial (read: critical) material on the topic of Islam and Muhammed in the future should in fact consider the possibility of something like this to happen. And anyone doing so in the future, in spite of the risks involved, is not only exercising his/her freedom of speech, (s)he is also courageously and admirably taking up arms in a long and fierce struggle to uphold freedom in our lands. Flemming Rose has shown us the way.

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